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Steelers notebook: Versatility is key for safety Mundy

| Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, 7:38 p.m.

The Steelers still haven't paired starting safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark since their regular season-ending game against St. Louis last season.

Ryan Mundy fills in whenever one is out; Clark missed the two games in Denver because of his sickle cell trait and Polamalu was out Sunday against the Jets with a strained calf.

“When I play with Troy, he primarily plays in the box,” Mundy said Monday. “Sometimes, we will switch it up just to give the quarterback a different look. When I'm playing with Ryan, I can be playing in the box one play, and he can be playing in the box another play. I just like to be flexible ... whatever position they want to play on a particular play, I play off them.”

Calming influence

Clark said Polamalu talked with him between possessions to pass on what he saw in the Jets' offense.

“It really made me feel like he was kind of out there with me,” said Clark, who ended with a team-high eight tackles in his first game since last season. “That's how I'm used to playing. Once I got talking to him, and settled down, it was just business as usual.”

Clark couldn't play in either the playoff game in Denver to end last season or the return trip there to begin this season.

Time for a change

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau showed off yet another wrinkle, a 4-2-5 configuration in which outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Chris Carter came off the field. Yes, it was a four-man line for the Steelers.

“Something new, something new,” Woodley said. “It worked the few plays I saw it.”

Trap game?

Oakland has been one of the NFL's worst teams over the last 10 seasons, never finishing better than 8-8.

But they beat the Steelers, 27-24, during a 5-11 season in 2009 as Seton-La Salle's Bruce Gradkowski threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter at Heinz Field and 20-13 in Oakland in 2006, when the Raiders finished 2-14.

The 2009 loss eventually kept the Steelers (9-7) out of the playoffs.

Odds and ends

The Steelers will have their bye week after playing in Oakland; they haven't been off this early in the season since 2006. ... The team picture was taken over the weekend, with the players wearing the throwback uniforms — replete with bumble-bee stripes on the jerseys and socks — they will wear against Baltimore and Washington. ... Ben Roethlisberger's 125.1 quarterback rating was the highest against the Jets since Tom Brady's 148.9 on Dec. 6, 2010. ... Roethlisberger completed passes to 10 of 12 eligible receivers.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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